HERDING hhTHE GERMAN SHEPHERD’S HERITAGE.
Sit on a hillside and watch the German Shepherd Dog tending sheep. It allows you to
look at the breed with new understanding and respect.
The tending style of herding is unique and requires characteristics that are unique.
The sheep used are generally larger and experienced with dogs, making them more willing
to challenge the dog’s authority.
The tending dog’s day can include moving the large flock on roads with traffic, over bridges and past
other hazards of modern life. Once at the grazing area, he must keep the flock in unfenced pastures
surrounded by other fields. He must do so without constant commands, but work out of an
understanding of what is required. There are no coffee breaks where the dog can stop watching the flock
– the sheep cannot be allowed to enter the adjoining fields to do damage. Moving or resting, he must
watch the flock.
Tending requires obedience but rather than just blind obedience, it requires reasoned obedience. The same is required of a leader dog for the blind.
Tending requires courage to face belligerent ewes, self-control to keep from frightening the lambs, and willingness to protect both the flock and the herdsman from outside threats. The same traits make for a good police dog who can handle a fugitive and also be friendly with the public.
Tending requires physical soundness and a balanced, far-reaching, effortless trotting gait that the allows the dog to cover many, miles a day and be sound enough to do it again the following day. It requires endurance and a desire to work. Those same traits keep the search dog working for hour after hour in hopes of finding the victims.
Herding Trials are offered by various organizations. The most common are:
The SV version offers the HGH title which is recognized as a working title for the breed survey. This test consists of a herding test followed by a protection test.
The AKC version, C Course, is available is three degrees of difficulty but does not require bitework.
The AKC also offers two other styles of herding, A Course and B Course, in which the GSD can compete and title, although they are not the natural style for this breed.
Glossary of Herding Terms